- Princess Lilian was the commoner wife of Prince Bertil, who died in 1997
- They met and fell in love in London during World War Two
- 'Secret' 33-year romance was Sweden's best-known love story
- Royal Court said she died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Stockholm
By Amanda Williams
PUBLISHED: 04:54 EST, 11 March 2013 | UPDATED: 08:07 EST, 11 March 2013
Princess Lilian was the commoner wife of Prince Bertil, who died in 1997. She died on Sunday at the age of 97
The British-born Swedish princess whose secret 33-year romance with her royal husband became Sweden's best-known love story, died on Sunday at the age of 97.
Princess Lilian was the commoner wife of Prince Bertil, who died in 1997.
Their story, which began in London during World War Two, and saw the lovestruck couple keep their relationship secret for decades for the sake of the crown and to avoid a constitutional crisis, gripped the hearts of the Swedes.
The royal court said in a statement that the princess, born Lillian Davies in Swansea in August 1915, died peacefully in her sleep in the afternoon at her home in Stockholm.
The princess, the daughter of William Davies and his wife, Gladys Mary Curran,originally spelt her name with two 'l's, but changed to Lilian when she embarked on a career as a fashion model, ballerina and singer.
Her first marriage was in September 1940, to a Scottish actor called Ivan Craig.
But he went to Africa during the war and the couple divorced after a long separation.
During the Second World War Lilian worked at a factory making radios for the Royal Navy, and also at a hospital for wounded soldiers.
There are several versions of how she met
Prince Bertil of Sweden in 1943.
Some claim she met him at a party held to celebrate her 28th birthday, some say they met at a club, and others have written they met on the London Underground.
Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland, with his fiance Lilian Craig on October 15, 1976. The lovestruck couple kept their relationship secret for decades for the sake of the crown and to avoid a constitutional crisis
Princess Lilian (left) with Swedish King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia. The British-born Swedish princess's secret 33-year romance with her royal husband became Sweden's best-known love story
Sweden's Royal family pose for photographers with President Mandela and his wife Graca Machel in 1999. Princess Lilian (left) was the commoner wife of Prince Bertil, who died in 1997
She later wrote of him: 'He was so handsome, my prince. Especially in uniform. So charming and thoughtful. And so funny.
'Oh, how we laughed together.'
She and Prince Bertil had to keep their love secret as Bertil's elder brother and heir to the throne, Prince Gustaf Adolf, had died in a plane crash in 1947 while the next brother, Sigvard, waived his right to the throne by marrying a commoner.
That left Bertil next in line until his infant nephew, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf came of age.
If Prince Bertil had married a commoner he would have had to renounce his right to the throne, probably sparking a constitutional crisis.
It was not until after the crown prince became king in 1973, and married a few years later, that Prince Bertil and Lilian could finally get married themselves and appear in public.
Bertil married Lilian on December 7 1976 at the Palace Church of
Drottiningholm in the presence of the King and the Queen.
They were both
in their 60s when they were finally given the blessing to marry.
The couple holidayed in Kenya to celebrate.
King Carl Gustaf, centre, and Queen Silvia, Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, second left, and far right is Scalfaro's daughter Marianna, standing beside Princess Lilian. The princess, born in Swansea in 1915, died peacefully in her sleep in the afternoon
Prince Bertil died aged 84 on January 5 1997, with his wife by his side. The couple had no children.
The royal palace did not give a cause of death for the Princess, but Lilian suffered from Alzheimer's disease and had been in ill health for several years.
On her 80th birthday in 1995, she said: 'If I were to sum up my life, everything has been about my love...He's a great man, and I love him.'
A great lover of practical jokes, when asked what the secret to her long life was she put it down to laughter - rather than exercise - keeping her young in mind. She said she felt the same wish to help as her husband did.
About Article Author